Development Management: July 2019 Update

During July 2019, the Scottish Borders Council received some 140 applications for planning permission and other consents, including listed building and conservation area consents and applications for works to protected trees, of which there were 19 applications; a considerable workload for the council’s solitary Tree Officer.  The vast majority of applications, however, related to the erection of single dwellinghouses or to alterations and extensions to dwellinghouses.  Large scale developments are few and far between at the moment, a reflection of the general malaise in the building industry.

In the Central Borders, an innovative proposal, submitted for land west of the Toyota Garage at St. Boswells, involves the provision of a demonstration area for electric and driverless cars (SBC Ref: 19/00945/FUL).  I wonder how long it will be before we see such cars on Border roads?  Next, we’ll be putting them on rails!

In Hawick, proposals have been put forward for the replacement of the Lawson footbridge, near the High School (SBC Ref: 19/01080/FUL) and Victoria Bridge on Commercial Road (SBC Ref: 19/01081/FUL).  Both are related to the flood protection works planned for Hawick and to the proposed 2.5m wide cycleway through the town, part funded by SUSTRANS.  Other works include the replacement of Mansfield Bridge (SBC Ref: 19/01083/FUL) and the creation of a pedestrian/cycle underpass at Waverley Bridge (SBC Ref: 19/01082/FUL).

In Jedburgh, proposals to demolish property at the corner of Exchange Street and High Street are causing a stir (SBC Ref: 19/01063/LBC).  The property, encased in scaffolding for some time, is now considered unfit for rehabilitation and renovation [not fit for purpose is the modern term!].  Is this the prospect for other properties in town centres such as Jedburgh or can the council’s attempts to preserve the viability and vitality of town centres also revive the run-down traditional buildings of many Border town centres.

Check out the council’s Public Access Portal if you want to find out more about the above applications or any other application submitted in the past month.

During July, some 130 applications were determined by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers.  Again, the vast majority related to the erection of single dwellinghouses or to alterations and extensions to dwellinghouses.  The development of affordable housing in the Scottish Borders continues to expand with the granting of planning permission for the erection of 49 affordable dwellinghouses on land at Angraflat Road, Kelso (SBC Ref: 19/00185/FUL) and for the erection of 50 affordable houses on land south and west of Ayton Primary School in Ayton, Berwickshire (SBC Ref: 18/01804/FUL).

Residents in Coopersknowe and Melrose Gait may not be entirely happy with the grant of planning permission for the permanent retention of the 82 storage containers located at Farknowes on the Langshaw Road, Galashiels (SBC Ref: 19/00839/FUL).  The original temporary consent, which expires on 19 September 2019, was imposed to allow the impact of the development on the road system to be monitored.  In granting consent, the Chief Planning Officer considered that there were no grounds for refusing the permanent retention of the containers in respect of visual amenity or impact on the road system, subject to the submission of a maintenance scheme for the containers and a tree planting scheme.  It will be interesting to see if these conditions are properly and effectively imposed and implemented; an on-going issue when planning permissions are granted subject to conditions that require future action.

Five applications were refused planning permission by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers in July; three related to the erection of single dwellinghouses: at Eshiels House, Eshiels, Peebles (SBC Ref: 19/00694/FUL); at Hoprigshiel Farmhouse, Cockburnspath (SBC Ref: 19/00590/FUL); and at Dundas Cottage, Selkirk (SBC Ref: 19/00521/AMC).  One was related to the extension of a dwellinghouse at 30 Mossilee Crescent, Galashiels (SBC Ref: 19/00787/FUL).  In Hawick, Planning permission was refused for the use of the former gas works building on Mansfield Road as a hot food takeaway (SBC Ref: 19/00504/FUL).  The site is outwith the town centre within a Safeguarded Employment Zone.

At its meeting on 1 July, the Planning and Building Standards Committee, somewhat controversially, granted planning permission for the erection of 28 dwellinghouses on land at The Croft, Dingleton Road, Melrose, much to the consternation of many local residents (SBC Ref: 18/01385/FUL) [there had been over 130 objections].  Whilst many members of the Committee expressed reservations about the scale and design of the proposed development, only one member spoke against it.  The site is allocated for housing development in the current local development plan with an indicative capacity of 25 dwellings [a previous planning brief for the site indicated the site had a capacity for some 45 dwellings but the Reporter who examined objections to the current local development plan in 2016 reduced this figure to 25 dwellings].  Nevertheless, the design and layout of the development was a matter for the Planning and Building Standards Committee to decide upon.  Although concerns were raised regarding the visual impact of this proposal on the slopes of the Eildon Hills, a National Scenic Area, and the impact of traffic on Dingleton Road, the Committee were satisfied that the proposed development was acceptable.

In relation to appeals to the Scottish Government, the appeal against the erection of 7 wind turbines at Gilston Hill, near Heriot has been returned to the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) to re-determine the appeal following a successful challenge to the Court of Session to the Reporter’s decision, dated 7 February 2019, to approve the application (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2068).  The Reporter’s decision to uphold the enforcement notice against the change of use of the property ‘Greenloaning’ on the Loan, West Linton from a residential dwelling to short-stay commercial visitor accommodation, dated 25 April 2019, has also been challenged with an appeal to the Court of Session.  Watch this space for further news!

Much to the surprise and satisfaction of the local community, the appeal against the refusal of planning permission for two blocks of residential flats, comprising 40 units, at Tweedbridge Court, Peebles, a proposal by Eildon Housing Association, was dismissed on 23 July (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2076).  In dismissing the appeal, the Reporter considered that the overall height and mass of the proposed buildings and the urbanised character of the development would contrast starkly with its setting and the wider character and appearance of the Peebles Conservation Area.  The Reporter concluded that the design and scale of the proposal was inappropriate in this location.  Consequently, although the proposed development would make an important contribution to affordable housing provision and the site was a brownfield site allocated for residential development, the Reporter considered that the proposed development would appear incongruous in this location and detract from the character and appearance of the riverside area of the town.

Three other appeals remain outstanding: (i) an appeal in relation to the council’s refusal of a request to issue a Certificate of Lawful Existing Use in respect of the residential use of the property ‘Glenacre’ at Camptown, south of Jedburgh (SBC Ref: 19/00339/CLEU; DPEA Ref: CLUD-140-2003); (ii) an appeal in relation to the proposal, by Eildon Housing Association, for the erection of 69 dwelling units at Coopersknowe, Galashiels (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2075) and (iii) the long-standing appeal against the refusal of planning permission for the construction of a wind farm comprising 7 turbines up to 132 metres high to tip height on land at Barrel Law, north west of Roberton (DPEA Ref: PPA-140-2072).  A hearing into certain aspects of this appeal was held on 6 August in the Forman Hall, Roberton, commencing at 10.00am.  Closing submissions are expected by 21 August.

Two wind farm applications submitted to the Scottish Government under Section 36 of the 1989 Act, to which the Scottish Borders Council has also objected, remain outstanding: (1) the application for a 12 turbine extension to the existing Fallago Rig wind farm in the Lammermuir Hills; and (2) the application to extend the operational life of the existing Fallago Rig wind farm to coincide with that of the extension (if approved) (DPEA case references WIN-140-5 & WIN-140-6).  The reports on these appeals have been with Scottish Ministers since July last year (2018).  Following the receipt of objections from Scottish Borders Council in April 2019, an inquiry is to be held in relation on an application for an expansion of the Crystal Rig Wind Farm in the Lammermuirs, comprising the addition of 11 turbines to the existing 90 turbines (DPEA Ref: WIN-140-8).

 

Author: douglas hope

Over fifty years experience in town and country planning, including twenty-one years with the Borders Regional Council (1975-1996) and twenty years with the Scottish Government as a Reporter for the Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals.